Software preservation can be incredibly tricky, as is the case for Hidden Palace’s recent discovery of an prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that was recently discovered from an old dumping group named CENSOR. Despite being made available to the public once before, it was not until recently that this version of Sonic 2 was not made available to a society dedicated to software preservation.
If you’re reading this expecting some significant new information about Sonic 2’s development history, you’re out of luck. However this build is actually older than the Beta 4, previously relesed by drx in 2008. This has led to speculation that this version is the Beta 3 build that was not included in SEGA’s QA archives. In fact this version is so close to the release of the final game from a matter of weeks, meaning the differences between this prototype and the Beta 4 prototype are not as drastic. However there are some notable differences, such as object layout changes in Wing Fortress, known as Sky Fortress in this version, slanted edges on the loops in Chemical Plant as well as longer load times when entering special stages due to how art was compressed in the Nemesis format.
Hidden Palace has provided a video playthrough showcasing differences, a brief history on dumping groups and the indirect role of software preservation (piracy!) as well as a page dedicated to the prototype detailing differences as well as links to download the prototype. The downloads include versions with CENSOR’s intro and copy protection bypass along with a proper dump of the ROM by itself.
Be sure to keep an eye on Hidden Palace as they have been on a roll putting out pre-release and prototype versions of games consistently. Aside from Sonic 2, they also rediscovered another CENSOR release of Gauntlet IV which predates the official Japanese release. One of the more interesting recent releases includes the 32X version of Pinocchio which, despite being ultimately cancelled, features increased color depth and parallax scrolling over the Mega Drive and Genesis versions. They also noted they will continue to put out more releases by CENSOR in the near future.
Thanks goes to GerbilSoft for pointing out the release in the Sonic Retro Discord.
How’s this for a little role reversal? Where Sonic Mania features fan game developers work in a commercial Sonic game, a Sonic game developer makes works on a ROM hack?
GameHut is the YouTube channel run by Traveller’s Tales founder Jon Burton which recently celebrated his achievement of 25,000 subscribers. The channel provides a constant stream of video material showcasing old prototypes, special builds and insight on coding techniques of Traveller’s Tales’ work over the years. There’s a greater focus on Mega Drive material and more recently a focus on their work on Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast / Sonic 3D Flickies’ Island. As an example I reported on videos on SEGAbits that covered a prototype for Sonic R and unseen footage of an unannounced sequel to Mickey Mania.
In a surprise announcement for achieving 25,000 subscribers on the channel Jon announced that he is working on releasing an unofficial patch for Sonic 3D titled Sonic 3D Director’s Cut that focuses on restoring content and adding enhancements to the game. This has no involvement with SEGA or any other company and is only being developed by Jon himself in his spare time. Details about the hack can be seen in the jump.
Is your Sonic library on Steam lacking a few titles? Why wait for a Steam sale when you can set your own price and meet payment tiers in the latest Humble Bundle featuring a trove of Sonic games that can be redeemed on Steam which includes Sonic Lost World and an exclusive T-shirt for $35. Games such as Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Generations all feature their DLC included as well, except for our good buddy Simon from Yogscast in Transformed. The SEGA Genesis and Mega Drive games also take advantage of the updated emulator that supports ROM hacks as well.
If you’re not familiar with how the Humble Bundle works, you can set the price on what you would pay for the games and receive a Steam validation code for each game covered by your payment. You can also pay above two different tiers with one being the average paid amongst different users on the Humble Bundle. Previous Humble Bundles included mobile Sonic titles and the Archie Sonic comic series. This marks the first time Sonic games on Steam appeared in a Humble Bundle set.
Be sure to check out the Humble Bundle page on more information. More games will be added to the bundle in the near future which do not require additional payment. Hit the jump to see what games are available in the bundle.
Iron Gut Publishing who specializes in creating limited edition art print collections have announced a run for the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog that will also feature other SEGA properties that’s currently slated only in the UK. Below is their press release.
Iron Gut Publishing, the company that specialises in creating limited edition art collections for global brands have signed a UK license with SEGA® Europe Ltd.
The art collection will feature the iconic video game character Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as a host of other classic brands from the SEGA video game portfolio including Golden Axe™, Streets of Rage™ and Revenge of Shinobi™.
2016 is the 25th anniversary year of Sonic and we will be organising an art event to celebrate this which will showcase the collection to fans. The event will allow us to drive awareness and increase visibility of both the brand and collection available.– Anthony Marks, M.D Iron Gut Publishing.
Framed products will be available from bricks and mortar stores and unframed for mail order and online sales. The range will be available from Q2 2016.
Throughout the summer, YouTube channel The Geek Critique has been covering the classic Sonic games in a six part Classic Sonic Retrospective which is, as described by the video’s creator, as being “essentially a feature-length documentary covering every single game in the classic series”. The retrospective covers why Sonic was such an influential series personally, and to the industry as a whole. It also does a good job in tackling the recent notion circulating the internet that Sonic was never good to begin with. Give the series a watch and stay tuned to The Geek Critique’s channel as he plans to cover the Sonic Adventure series next summer!
Come join our live SEGA Channel Retro stream as we celebrate Sonic’s birthday the only way we know how! Come check out Sonic games and more on stream.
Now that the stream has concluded, jump to any point you’d like from our initial stream, and be sure to stay tuned this week for more Sonic games streamed live on SEGA Channel Retro. Videos are up on YouTube and on Twitch.
SEGA Channel Retro presents a showcase of fan-driven projects regarding classic SEGA favorites as well as a vintage PC shooter making it’s debut on the SEGA Genesis. Today Bartman3010 checks out Ecco the Dolphin PC retooled for modern platforms by a key member from Caverns of Hope, GASEGA68K’s port of Wolfenstein 3D to the Mega Drive as well as finishing up our sporadic playthrough of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with Sonic 3 Complete made by members of Sonic Retro. If you are reading this, the feed should be live very shortly.
You can check out the archived stream in it’s entirety on Twitch here as well as view the videos on YouTube if you prefer. If you want to play any of these for yourself, the links will be listed below.
It’s pretty rare that we get to see Sega developers geek out and go into wonderful detail about the development process behind their games, so it’s always special when we see something published like Impress Watch‘s interview with M2 president Naoki Horii and Sega CS3 producer Yosuke Okunari about bringing the classic Mega Drive version of Sonic the Hedgehog to the Nintendo 3DS. Translated by Sega and published by Siliconera, the two men describe the technical challenges of emulating the Mega Drive on the 3DS, how they had to rewrite large portions of code in ARM assembly to optimize performance, how they designed a fictional hardware variation of the Mega Drive to support stereoscopic 3D, and even how they dug into the vaults and consulted Sonic Jam source code for assistance porting the Spin Dash to the original game. Be sure to check out the full interview at the source link below; it’s an excellent read if you’re interested in a detailed look at the programming and design work that goes into a project like this.